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Mittens For Detroit helps residents warm hearts… two hands at a time
By John McTaggart
I woke this morning to temperatures that had dipped well below freezing.
Just opening the door to let the dogs out just before dawn was a startling reminder of a looming Michigan winter — complete with snow, wind and frigid temperatures — that would soon be upon us all.
After they returned inside, which was only moments later given the conditions, and after they all found their place nestled against heat registers throughout the house, I got myself ready for the day, eventually putting on my warm jacket, knit hat and gloves.
Most of us will find ourself in a similar routine during the long cold winter months, with a substitution or addition to the story here or there.
Just imagine, however, if among the substitutions was not being able to put on those gloves, not being able to keep our hands warm, not being able to stop that agonizing pain that comes when our hands aren’t protected from the harsh and bitter cold.
Eventually, that pain turns to an inability to to even use our hands, and in many cases, to frost bite and worse.
For thousands of men, women and children in Detroit, and surrounding communities, this is the reality.
“The need is so great,” Mittens For Detroit Executive Director Wendy Shepherd said. “Just take a moment to think about what that must be like. Take a moment to think about not being able to protect your hands from the cold, to keep them warm. It’s something so many of us take for granted, but it’s real life for thousands and thousands.”
Mittens For Detroit is a 501c3 nonprofit hoping to change this reality for as many people as possible — and since the organization’s beginnings in 2010, they’ve collected and purchased more than 200,000 pairs of new and unused gloves, then utilizing a network of distribution streams, the organization gets them onto the hands of those in need.
“This isn’t just people who are homeless and living on the streets either,” she explained. “Gloves or mittens are given to families who may have had to get out of a terrible situation in a hurry, perhaps to a transition center for battered women, for example. They are distributed to school children, shelters, and anyone in a situation where there is a need. And that need is endless. It really is.”
It Takes a Village
Mittens For Detroit relies on the kindness, generosity and donations of those within communities such as the Grosse Pointes, Shepherd said.
In fact, glove and mitten donation boxes can be found at each of the Grosse Pointes’ three public library branches, both Starbucks coffee locations (in Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Park), and at Fusion Integrated Training in Grosse Pointe Park.
“We can’t do any of this without the generosity and kindness and compassion of the community,” Shepherd explained. “We are a conduit between those who want to give and those who need. Without those who give so generously, we can’t help those in need.”
And to even begin to meet that need this season, the goal is to be able to warm 100,000 hands by collecting at least 50,000 pairs of mittens and gloves.
“We are especially in need of adult-sized gloves and mittens,” Shepherd said. “And to be honest, if we collected 60,000 pair or 70,000 pair, or more, the need still wouldn’t completely be met.”
Donations of new or unused gloves can be dropped off at ay donation center in the community, or a monetary donation can be made via the organization’s website at www.mittensfordetroit.org.
“We use tax-deductible monetary donations to purchase new mittens and gloves and for operational costs,” Shepherd added. “We are so fortunate to have partnered with Michigan-based Broner Hat & Glove, who can get us new mittens and gloves at a very reduced cost, which allows us to provide even more to those in need.”
“Warming Hearts… Two Hands at a Time.”
Before leaving this morning, I had a simple decision to make — whether to wear my fleece gloves or the leather pair.
Admittedly, not once did not wearing gloves ever enter my mind. Not once did I think about those who may not have such a choice, nor those who will brave the frigid months ahead hoping to find some way to keep their hands, and themselves, warm.
Perhaps you didn’t give any thought to this either this morning.
Perhaps on your way out the door you pulled a pair of gloves over your hands and didn’t think about those who aren’t able do the same thing.
Perhaps it’s time we changed that.
Perhaps it’s time we dropped by one of the Grosse Pointe Public Library branches, or the Starbucks on Mack in the Woods, or the one located in the Village in the Park, and dropped one pair, two pair, three pair or even more new pairs of gloves or mittens into the donation box.
“It means so much to the people who need them,” Shepherd said. “The need is so great, too. Just imagine what it would be like to not have any way to warm your hands, to protect your hands from the freezing cold.”
Now I want you to imagine your donation, your kindness and compassion changing that reality for someone.
We can do it — two hands at a time.
For more information on Mittens For Detroit, go to mittensfordetroit.org or call (313) 727-6336.